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NASA’s Advanced Composites Consortium Strengthens

Automated fiber replacement robot in operation
Fabricating complex parts using automated fiber placement robot to inform and validate manufacturing process simulation tools.
NASA / Langley Research Center

Six organizations joined NASA’s Advanced Composites Consortium this past year making the consortium 13 members strong.

Recent additions to the team include: Aurora Flight Sciences; Collier Research Corporation; Orbital ATK; Spirit AeroSystems; The McNair Center (University of South Carolina); and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NAIR) of Wichita State University.

“These six organizations were invited to join the consortium based on their technical expertise which complements the existing team as well as their ability to share costs,” said Dr. Richard Young, Project Manager for NASA’s Advanced Composites Project.

NASA’s Advanced Composites Consortium is a public-private partnership to help American industry retain a competitive advantage in aircraft manufacturing by reducing the time needed to develop and certify composite materials and structures.

Consortium members participate in research focused in three areas:

  • Accurate prediction of the strength and life of composite structures
  • Rapid inspection of composites
  • Efficient development of manufacturing processes
Wide-area inspections using robotic flash thermography.
Wide-area inspections using robotic flash thermography.

The Project and Consortium recently completed state of the art assessments, and identified tools and methods with the potential for high payoff.

Growth in the consortium, with the infusion of fresh expertise and energy, came as the team entered into its second phase which runs from 2017 to 2019. Phase 2 focuses on developing and validating the most promising technologies, integrating tools, and transferring results to the broader aviation industry.

When the consortium was founded in 2015, Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Mission Directorate, characterized it as part of NASA’s commitment to transform aviation through cutting edge research and development.

The consortium supports NASA’s Advanced Composites Project, a part of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program within the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

Seven-point bend experiment studies how bonded structural elements come apart
Seven-point bend experiment studies how bonded structural elements come apart.

Current consortium members:

  • Spirit AeroSystems (2017)
  • Aurora Flight Sciences (2016)
  • Collier Research Corporation (2016)
  • Orbital ATK (2016) 
  • McNair Center, University of South Carolina (2016)
  • National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University (2016)
  • NASA’s Advanced Composites Project (2015)
  • Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center (2015)
  • General Electric Aviation (2015)
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (2015)
  • Boeing Research & Technology (2015)
  • United Technologies Corporation via subsidiary Pratt & Whitney (2015)
  • National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), manages administrative and financial aspects of the Consortium (2015)
NASA Advanced Composites Program – Impact Testing at NASA Glenn Ballistic Impact Lab
Credits: NASA/Glenn Research Center

Learn More:

NIA Advanced Composite Consortium site
NASA’s Advanced Composites Project
NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program
NASA’s Aeronautics Mission Directorate
NASA’s Langley Research Center



Last Updated
Jul 26, 2023
Lillian Gipson